Reallusion iClone4 Pro review

19 Jan 2010

Facial puppeteering and video compositing add to existing strengths – just don’t expect Hollywood production values

Price when reviewed 
143
5

As computer-generated 3D animation increasingly takes over the world of Hollywood movies, many users will naturally wonder if they can do something similar on their own systems. Reallusion, makers of 3D animation software, offers a tool for the job: iClone4 Pro.

To start setting up your movie in iClone, begin at the Stage tab. Here you can choose from a handful of 3D presets or your own 2D image backdrops, as well as manage other global elements such as cameras and lights. New in iClone4 is support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) images and Image Based Lighting (IBL) to produce more realistic atmospheres.

Using the Set tab you can then dress your stage via presets for terrain, sky, water, grass and trees, plus particle effects such as fog and rain (which now benefit from new softness and orientation controls). It’s also here that you add prop presets such as walls, floors and curtains. Users of the 3DXchange add-on ($69) can create their own custom props by converting externally-created 3D models, including SketchUp/3D Warehouse files.

iClone4 Pro

Once added, the handling of the elements that make up your set is improved by the use of onscreen gizmos for positioning, scaling and rotating. Object formatting is also made simpler thanks to eyedropper and paint bucket tools, while drag-and-drop support for external texture files helps keep file sizes down. Formatting options are enhanced with new blend modes and greater control over UV mapping.

Once your stage is set, switch to the Actors tab to cast your production. iClone4 adds new default male and female avatars as well as a new cartoon child, Jimmy Toon. The quality and realism of avatars is reasonable, but the limited choice of characters is perhaps inevitably slanted towards scantily-clad sci-fi fantasy.

If the default avatars don’t suit your intended project, further low-cost options are available from the Reallusion website, or you can quickly customise the provided presets. By far the most powerful feature in this regard is the ability to create new faces for your avatars by matching facial feature points to imported photos.

Once all your elements and actors are in place, you can bring them to life using the Animation tab. iClone4 Pro sees a major revamp of general animation capabilities, starting with the ability to dock and collapse the Timeline panel. You can also add and edit motion paths for objects and cameras to follow, as well as transition curves to make the resulting movement smoother and more naturalistic.

Details

Price ex VAT £122
Price inc VAT £143
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Graphics/design software